On Sunday Emir and I ran the OD Marathon at the shore. We had signed up for this marathon because we needed to run a marathon distance run in our 50K plan and this one fit nicely in the schedule. It also is a very convenient race for us as we have a condo in Wildwood and the race shuttle bus picked us up/dropped us off only a few blocks from our place. The OD Marathon was Emir's first ever marathon. He ran it last year while I was pregnant with Una. His training for it had gone extremely well and I was anticipating he would be close to a 4 hour marathon. Unfortunately the day before he was running a fever and barely made his 2 mile shakeout run. The morning of the race he took some Tylenol and felt a little better but after about 10 miles or so it wore off and he hit a major wall. Also on a bathroom stop, something happened and his knee was killing him. Then to top things off, there was a constant headwind the entire race. Needless to say he was so disappointed. He finished which is awesome but he felt like he could have done so much better than his 4:36.
All last week leading up to the marathon, Emir kept saying that it was just a training run and its no big deal. I was a little nervous just because of that awful 14 miler turned 10.5 mile run last weekend with my throbbing ankle/foot. I rolled and iced and the rest of the week my runs were good, pain free. I had been thinking in the back of my head for a few weeks that this marathon would be my only chance until the fall to improve my marathon time since the rest of our races this spring are those of the nature that just finishing will be a major accomplishment due to the 1000s and 1000s of elevation ;-) I didn't want to go out and immediately sprint but depending how I felt I did want to try to improve my time. I knew Emir was probably worrying about this race due to his experience last year and the fact that he also reads endless amounts of blogs, posts and listens to running podcasts and that our training program specifically said that we could run a marathon race but we should NOT RACE it due to the fact that this is part of our training. I grew up participating in sports where Emir didn't have that opportunity in Bosnia. It's just my nature that I'm competitive, I can't help it. I have this urge/desire to constantly get better, improve and beat opponents. Emir is cautious and always worries that if he does too much now, it will affect him later. Even within a marathon itself I know he is always worried that if he goes to fast, he will die later in the race. My logic is I want to go with how I feel. If I'm feeling really good, I run as fast as I feel comfortable. If I get tired later in the race, I get tired. I know that if I don't go as fast as I comfortably can, and then later I'm not trashed, I will always wonder, could I have done better in that race?
So Saturday we dropped off the kids at my parents and made our way to the shore. When we got there we gorged a bit on the famous Mack's pizza (it was there first open weekend of the season) and picked up our bibs. In the end we probably walked 2-3 miles very leisurely. That night we went to our favorite spot around the corner from our condo and had a couple beers (good for carbo loading, right?!?). I'm very into the IPA scene these days but the last few times I had a couple, I woke up during the night with a splitting headache. So smart me had two different, pretty strong IPAs. When we got back then I filled up on my pasta with buffalo meat (our favorite). And can you guess what happened??? Yup woke up around 1 AM with a splitting headache. I got up and found an Advil bottle (yes!) but it only had one pill. I took it. I fell back asleep but woke up an hour later with a worse headache. I was so mad at myself #1 for drinking those beers but even more importantly for not bringing some pain relievers from home! ugh! In the end I found infant's Tylenol drops and yes you guessed it, I sucked down a few droppers full. After suffering for a bit trying to get back to sleep, I must have passed out and woke up to my alarm at 5AM and amazingly headache free although feeling pretty tired. We went through our usual morning routine coffee, me still having to pump and then our breakfast of eggs, English muffins, avocado, cheese and bacon.
It was freakin freezing that morning (we got snow today!). We both went with a couple layers of long sleeves and long pants. The first few miles, I felt fine. Not overly great not bad though. We were probably averaging 9;30-9:45 minute miles. Emir kept saying "don't get sucked into the race!" I was like "yeah ok, mmm hmmm" I'm not sure when it happened maybe 5 or so miles, I just felt like I needed to go faster. I just let my legs take over. Emir knew we were going faster and started making comments again. I kept on prob at a 9:15-9:20 pace. Somewhere between mile 8 & 9, we ran under the boardwalk real quick to pee ( I really really need to figure out how to run a marathon without peeing!!!!) At this point a descent headwind had picked up. Emir was saying that we needed to slow down due to the wind. He said it would be like this the whole way and would wear us out. I just really wasn't worried about it and really didn't care. I just wanted to run how I felt. A couple of times he said if I kept going how I was going he was going to have to let me go. I really, really did not want to leave him behind. I wanted to do the race together. We train together, we are partners in life and running and I love running together but I was almost getting tired of holding myself back. Somewhere in mile 12 I just let go and let my legs take over. Before I knew it Emir wasn't next to me anymore. At the halfway point I checked my watch. I was at 2:03 and overall 9:28 pace. I was like this is great! My time for the Philly marathon in November was 4:19 so even if I start slowing down when I get tired/hit the wall, I should pretty easily be able to beat my PR. I don't even know how to explain it but my legs almost felt like they weren't apart of my body. I would check my watch and I was comfortable in the 8:45-9:00 mile zone. The miles were flying by way faster than I've ever experienced during a long run. When I reached 20 miles I was still feeling great. I checked my overall time. I can't remember exactly but I'm pretty sure I was around 3:06. I thought to myself "holy crap, if I can keep up this pace, I might make under 4 hours!!!" That thought sent me soaring. The next 3 miles I kept on what I felt was a good pace. I checked my watch again at 3 miles to go. I was at 3:34. I had started feeling a bit labored those 3 miles from 20 -23 but overall nothing that I have experienced in each of my previous marathons. I was like "ok Amy, you can do this!!! It's only 3 miles, that's nothing. Just give it your all and you get to die in only 3 miles!!!" So I kicked it into high gear and I was determined. I was definitely the most labored I was all race but it was almost over so I wasn't worried. With 1 mile to go I was at 3:51. Once again I found some higher gear. I kept checking my watch that last mile and kept pushing myself. I knew it would be close. I hit my watch as I crossed the line and it said 3:59.55!!!! I yelled out loud when I saw it. Later looking at my stats I had many miles in my second half less than 9 minute pace but more impressively I paced 8:30 the last 3 miles.
Then and even now I just can't believe I broke the 4 hour mark. I have had that goal in my mind but I kept thinking it was something I wouldn't achieve until the fall or next spring. Let's face it, it hasn't even been a year yet since I had my second C-section and I've only been running overall a total of 2.5 ish years, 9 months of which was spent pregnant followed by 5 weeks no running after surgery. I can be silly and unreasonable at times unlike my practical husband but usually overall goals like this I'm pretty grounded. I still don't even know how I did that!! And to top it off, I wasn't crippled like the usual after marathon cripple. Two weeks ago I could hardly stand or walk afterwards but this day, I felt great (relatively speaking). It feels awesome to know that all this training has been for something. I am not only getting into great shape but I'm improving. And that's really what I want and it's what will keep me going and working so hard. As I had written the last few blogs, I had been feeling a bit down, tired, sore, etc. I was beginning to feel like my speed would never change, I was always the same pace sometimes way slower. This was exactly what I needed to show me that none of that is true. That is just part of training especially intense 50K training. I have the motivation I need to get to our next event at the end of April. More on that later. For now, YEAH BABY!!!!!!!!!